By Anita Tang
This tool will guide your team through a power mapping analysis to inform your campaign strategy with a thorough picture of the players, and their power.
It runs step by step through a collaborative exercise where your team can all contribute to a visual map of power holders and power relationships affecting your issue and campaign.
This critical exercise will strengthen and inform your work and set you up to build power and win.
Purpose of power mapping and analysis process
To assist the campaign team:
- Consider all players of relevance to its campaign and identify key players to target during the campaign
- Provide an analysis and visual representation of where power relationships stand in relation to the issue and how the campaign team might intervene
- Identify relationships between key players and assess relevance to your strategy
- Identify further information (‘research questions’) needed to further develop the power map and inform you campaign strategy
When to do it
This process works best when the campaign has already:
- Established a clear goal: something concrete and specific (eg have your local Council adopt a smoke-free outdoor areas policy)
- Identified the people who can actually make your goal happen for you ie the decision-maker
- Looked at the broader social, political and economic environment that impacts the issue and goal (eg through a Force Field analysis)
Who to involve in the process
Everyone who is on the campaign team! This process is about democratizing knowledge and building a collective understanding of the power dynamics around the campaign – so the more people the better.
At a minimum, you need:
- Anyone involved in implementing campaign strategy – the campaign team, field volunteers and volunteer leaders
- People familiar with the issue of focus in the campaign
- People familiar with the local community or communities of interest to the issue of focus of the campaign
- A large surface area for your map, visible to the entire group: either a large whiteboard, poster paper, a wall or even the floor – marked using the ‘powermap’ grid
- Marker pens – for whiteboard and poster paper
- Poster paper – one sheet labelled for each of the following:
- organised stakeholders
- core constituencies ie people directly affected by the issue who may not be part of an organised structure
- Post-it notes in 4 different colours (one for each category above)
- Additional poster paper labelled “ResearchQuestions”
It really depends on the complexity of your campaign and issue and the size of the group. Recommend 90mins for an initial session. This is likely to generate a series of research questions that can be done out of session and results bought back to the next meeting.
How it’s done
Focus on a specific campaign, where there is a clear goal.
Identifying all the players
- Ask the group: who is the person who can make the decision that achieves the campaign goal? Be specific – named person and role. In some cases, may be more than one person eg if the whole Council needs to pass a resolution.
Write these names on separate post-it notes of the same colour and place on the ‘decision-makers’ poster paper
- Ask the group to quickly brainstorm names of organised stakeholders and influencers. Each name goes on a post-it note of a different colour to that used for decision-makers and stuck to relevant poster paper, or write straight onto poster paper
- Ask the group to consider the core constituencies – who are the people directly affected (eg parents of primary school aged children) who may not necessarily be organised.
Mapping the players
Taking each player at a time, ask the group where this player sits in terms of
- (a) influence over the decision
- (b) support for our goal
and place the relevant post-it note on the appropriate spot on the grid
This step should involve a lot of discussion and conversation – the aim is to share the knowledge in the room.
Note – don’t get too stuck on exact placement of the players on the map – the focus is on the positions relative to each other rather than any ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ placement.
Have the group look at the power map and the placement of all the players. Ask people about any known links between any of the players, and draw lines between them to show the connection.
This helps identify potential avenues for the campaign team to reach decision makers indirectly and to influence the influencers.
These will arise from the conversations taking place while trying to place each player on the map. Some examples of questions needing more research:
- Does this organisation have a view about our issue?
- Who are the key leaders in a named stakeholder organisation and what are their relationships with decision makers?
- Political factions or alliances of decision makers?
Analysis and strategy and next steps
Have the group look at the map and consider the following:
- Which people or groups influence the decision maker and support your issue? How can you involve them in your campaign?
- Think about your decision makers – what communities do they identify with? Where do they spend their time? How does your issue affect their electoral constituency? Are they subject to competing views or priorities?
- For key players – what is holding them back from adopting our ask or agreeing with our position?
- Are there people or groups who are influential in terms of power, who you should recruit as allies?
- For those groups or individuals where you have no direct relationship and who may be important to your campaign, how will you connect with them?
- Are there some players who are not of great relevance to your campaign (low in power, neutral position on your issue and not well connected to other stakeholders)?
- Are there 2-3 obvious spots on the map where your actions may have the greatest impact?
Strategy and action plan
Your campaign strategy will start to emerge from this analysis of power around your issues:
- Who are the players key to our success?
- How can we influence the decision maker(s)?
- Who do we know that influences the decision maker, and how can we involve them in our strategy?
- For any of the players not already supportive, can we move them to be more supportive?
- How can we neutralise the impact of those with opposing views?
- How can we organise the people directly affected?
- Assign people to find the answers to the research questions identified
- Develop a ‘target table’ that captures the essence of what is now known about each of the relevant key players and assign responsibility for actions